U. students stage demonstration in support of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe movement| Oct 10, 2016
On Oct. 10 at noon, nearly 20 students gathered outside Stanhope Hall in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe movement currently working to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Among those who met outside Stanhope Hall were members of the Graduate Women of Color Caucus, the Black Graduate Caucus, and Natives at Princeton. The Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students, Thomas Dunne, was also present at the demonstration.
Dunne declined to comment.
The students, holding signs and posters, gathered on this date to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to protest the continued celebration of Columbus Day. The student organization Natives at Princeton also created a twenty-four-hour-long Snapchat geofilter, which reads “rethink Columbus Day.”
According to Emery Real Bird ‘17, the president of Natives at Princeton and a student in the politics department, this particular demonstration began when Edna Bonhomme GS, a sixth-year graduate student in the history department, reached out to Natives at Princeton to work together to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters.
Real Bird clarified that today’s demonstration was neither a simple picture nor a protest.
“It’s the start of a larger movement here on campus,” he said, adding that the group will be holding clothing drives for the coming winter.
“If you look at a lot of the media reports they kind of paint it as when winter comes, the Standing Rock protest will end because the Dakotas have very harsh winters," he said. "We’re trying to help any way we can."
“I think it’s a matter of having an effective demonstration. This would be about getting awareness out, giving supplies and support rather than actually sustaining a protest here. We’re here to learn, we’re here to be students, but we’re also here to be aware of the different political and cultural instabilities that have plagued us lately,” he added.
Bonhomme noted that coming together to celebrate indigenous people here, on this territory, as well as elsewhere in the Americas and abroad was particularly relevant this year because of the Standing Rock movement.
“They’ve been leading an international solidarity campaign to stop the pipeline from going through Canada and through the United States. It's important for us to be in solidarity with them as well as to make it known that we here at Princeton appreciate indigenous people and their history, and we stand with their fight against environmental destruction and settler colonialism," she said.
Bonhomme added that she wants her community to recognize the destruction done to the groups that are no longer part of this community.
Real Bird added that beyond supporting the Standing Rock movement, he wanted to increase awareness of native issues on campus, “It’s something that I think everyone should be aware of because even Nassau Street is on an old Indian trail. People don’t know that.”
According to Real Bird, Prospect house used to be Colonel George Morgan's house, and Morgan was one of the first Indian agents for the U.S. Continental Congress.
“People joke about Pocahontas, so there’s this kind of comedic awareness, but there’s not actual awareness, and that’s what we’re trying to change," he said. "We’re trying to make these issues more pressing."